As mass immunization efforts ramp up across the province, CUPE Ontario is calling for temporarily unemployed airline workers to be prioritized as an available workforce to support COVID-19 vaccination clinics.  

“Most airline workers possess first-aid training, speak multiple languages, and have federal security clearance” said Jill Patterson, the Vice-President of CUPE Local 4047. “These are skills vaccine clinics could put to good use.”

“Now is the time for creative thinking” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “Public sector workers have performed all kinds of roles during this pandemic and continue to fill those roles where available. But to really roll out a mass, rapid vaccination of Ontarians, vaccine clinics are going to need skilled people to help in all kinds of ways beyond those who will actually put shots in arms. When we have a pool of qualified and willing workers, who through no fault of their own are temporarily unemployed, it just makes so much to put these folks to work”.”

Canada remains the only country in the G7 without a plan to support its airline industry and airline workers through the pandemic. CUPE estimates that roughly ninety per cent of the airline workers it represents are currently laid off.

“At the start of the pandemic, airline crews responded to the call of the government to repatriate Canadians—working under difficult conditions to bring people home safely,” added Patterson. “Now crews are ready to serve their communities again in the vaccination campaign, helping to restart travel, reunite families, and open the skies. Who better for the job?” 

CUPE is Canada’s flight attendant union representing over 15,000 flight attendants nationwide, including 9,500 members at Air Canada and Rouge and 2,000 members at Air Transat.